When a mother found possible evidence on Twitter of a terror attack at the upcoming Strawberry Music Festival in Florida, she contacted the FBI to alert federal agents.
But the FBI — who has been excoriated for ignoring multiple public tips on the deadly Florida school shooter — dismissed her, saying they didn’t need her help or information. In fact, the FBI agent in the Tampa field office would not take any evidence from the woman or even her contact information.
That was four months ago. Now the popular music festival — which will attract several hundred thousand people to Plant City, FL over its eleven-day run — is just days away, launching March 1.
“I spoke with an (FBI) agent that told me he would not look at the Tweet because no crime had been committed; he did not even want my contact info,” said Anne Wolcott, a concerned mother who contacted law enfocement about a potential threat. “It was a very odd conversation. I followed up with an online report to the FBI. The festival starts next week, should I contact a different agency? Who? How do I get this looked into?”
Wolcott’s daughter plans to attend the festival for the Reba McIntyre concert. The Strawberry Festival isn’t some little county fair either. The festival is an eleven-day event, which includes a parade that draws over 30,000 spectators alone who pack the parade route. Also, country and rock artists scheduled to perform this year includes: Brad Paisley, Earth Wind & Fire, Trace Adkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Big & Rich, and the Oak Ridge Boys among many entertainers.
Last year 540,628 people attended the festival.
In early Dec. 2017, Wolcott Googled tickets for the festival concerts and tripped across a cryptic Twitter post written in Arabic from a newly created Twitter account:
Specifically, the Twitter account status mentioned the Strawberry Festival Parade which is scheduled for March 5, just a few days away, and in the middle of the eleven-day event.
But why would someone in Arabic announce they would be at the Strawberry Festival Parade in Plant City FL on December 2, 2017 when the even wasn’t until March? That’s four months away. And why is this the sole post the Twitter account published? Wouldn’t a regular festival attendee simply announce they were going to the festival and not declare “I’m at the Strawberry festival” four months before the event, like they were assigned to “cover” the festival for “work”?
In Arabic nonetheless?
Even the incompetent FBI could flag this Twitter account as suspicious. If the Bureau actually cared, that is.
“That guy (Twitter account) appears very sketchy, so are his followers, my radar went off as soon as I saw his Tweet,” Wolcott remembered.
Wolcott contacted the Tampa Police Department. They forwarded her to the FBI.
Wolcott contacted the Plant City Police Department. They forwarded her to the FBI.
Wolcott contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. They forwarded her to the FBI.
Wolcott contacted Corporal Larry McKinnon of the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office in Florida via Twitter. She received no response.
Notification sent to Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office via Twitter.
Then later that day, on Dec. 7, armed with referrals from the various law enforcement agencies, Wolcott contacted the FBI to forward the material to be analyzed by anti-terrorism experts.
She caught an FBI agent at the Bureau’s Tampa office and explained what she had found while searching for tickets to the festival. To her dismay, she was informed the FBI did not care.
“The agent would not allow me to send him the Tweet, nor would he take the account name to take a look at the Tweet,” Wolcott said.”He simply said, ‘There is nothing we can do, no crime has been committed.’
“I pushed to give him the Tweet and was told, no thanks,” she said. “I was shocked and pissed at his condescending attitude and lack of professionalism.”
Bewildered by he FBI agent’s behavior, Wolcott filed a report on the FBI’s web site detailing the potential threat and includied a copy of the disturbing Tweet, the same day. She has received no follow up from the FBI, she said.
Wolcott’s story is apparently not an isolated tale of citizens who try to forward active intelligence to the FBI. In all fairness the Tweet Wolcott uncovered perhaps has nothing to do with a terror plot to sabotage the festival. But how would the FBI know if they refused to look at her intelligence? Any seasoned law enforcement veteran would raise red flags after examining the circumstances behind the Arabic Tweet. It certainly merits investigating.
The bigger story here is the FBI never even cared to look. Just like last week’s deadly school shooting in Florida, where the FBI ignored two public complaints saying the suspect planned to shoot up a school and kill students. Armed with that intelligence, the FBI did nothing.
In Wolcott’s case, the FBI dismissed her like a teen punished without dinner and sent to her room.
Why in the hell are we funding the FBI’s $3.5 billion budget? The FBI has a thousand agents in South Florida alone, and over 13,000 in the United States. Not one agent could get even pick up the phone and get details from Twitter on this account?
No, wait. These lazy self-important yet incompetent law enforcement agents couldn’t even write down information from a tipster? Would the FBI actually need to be reminded of the deadly country music concert in Las Vegas that was the scene of the Mandalay Bay massacre just months ago that killed 57 people?
in Wolcott’s case the FBI didn’t even want the opportunity to ignore the intelligence. They simply didn’t want to know about the potential threat at all. This is a new, more disturbing level of malfeasance.
“I guess they really don’t want you to say something, if you see something,” Wolcott concluded.
Not unless you have bogus Russian intelligence about Donald Trump.